As a rule, mortgages are for older borrowers of all ages, but there are more hurdles to overcome for borrowers who are older than 60. That’s largely because lenders have strict requirements that are tied to credit scores, income, and cash available, and these factors can be difficult to meet if you’re on a fixed income like a pension or Social Security benefits.
Many seniors and retirees find themselves with substantial equity in their homes but can’t qualify for a traditional loan based on the high debt-to-income ratio required by many lenders. They can, however, use a reverse mortgage to convert some of the home equity they have into cash.
This type of mortgage doesn’t require monthly payments and is only repaid when the homeowner moves out or dies. It’s an attractive option for people who want to stay in their homes and need a little extra cash but are unable to qualify for conventional loans.
The Road to Retirement Homeownership: How Seniors Can Secure Mortgages Tailored to Their Needs
But it’s also an easy way for seniors to get trapped in a mortgage they can’t afford, says Vento. He says some of his clients are being persuaded to stay in their homes by financial advisers who promote a reverse mortgage as an effective strategy for delaying Social Security benefits.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act protects mortgage applicants from discrimination based on age, but if a lender considers an applicant’s age in addition to other, permissible factors, it can lead to higher interest rates and rejection for a loan, especially for older borrowers. That’s why it’s important to understand all of your options before committing to a mortgage at any age.